Clem Sunter to Speak at BMGI’s Business Breakfast: What to Expect (Part 3)

More from the Renowned Scenario Plannerclemsunter_5

BMGI’s business breakfast will take place at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in Sandton on May 20, 2015.  In this preview of the highlights of Sunter’s presentation, we look at Clem’s use of the ‘Mind of a Fox’ analogy as it relates to innovation and scenario planning. Read part one and part two here. 

‘You need the bright eyes of a fox to survey the world around you; you need the mind of a fox to map out the best way of handling the changes you see happening; and you need the speed and agility of a fox’s response to turn your decisions into action.  It’s all about looking out, then looking in,’ he explains.

BMGI Clem Sunter Gears‘Before you decide what you can do based on what you control in your business, you have to understand the environment around you and particularly the relevant factors you don’t control and how they may have changed or might change in the future.  In life there are things which are relatively predictable and certain; but equally there are many issues  which are beyond your power of prediction and which you have to consider before committing yourself to action.  If you follow these principles, you will capture all that is happening around you; and you will also acquire the speed and flexibility of response needed to pursue the opportunities and counter the threats posed by the changing environment.  According to Charles Darwin, the most successful species are not necessarily the most powerful ones, but those that most readily adapt to whatever nature throws at them. The same applies to human pursuits.’

Clem Sunter Headlines BMGI’S Business Breakfast – What to Expect (Part 2)

BMGI Clem Sunter

Clem Sunter, renowned scenario planner and international business consultant, will be addressing a business breakfast, hosted by BMGI, at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in Sandton on May 20, 2015.

In the next of our highlights from Clem’s presentation, we look at Clem’s view on how companies can successfully develop a culture of innovation.

BMGI Clem Sunter Bulb Puzzle‘It is self-evident that innovation is crucial to the success of businesses in the rapidly-changing modern era,’ he says.  ‘Within companies, some people are naturally innovative and creative.  They think laterally without formal training.  Other people, highly competent though they may be, struggle to be naturally innovative.  In the end, it’s all about nature versus nurture, which is why formal training in innovation is so important.  Innovation can be taught, not only at the individual level, but also at the corporate level, where companies need to have formal structures in place to encourage innovation on a continuous basis.’

Clem believes that South Africa need not stand back in the innovation stakes.  ‘We have had numerous highly innovative and creative business people that can take their places on the world stage.  Two examples are Adrian Gore, founder of Discovery Health, and Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors.’

Clem Sunter Headlines BMGI’S Business Breakfast – What to Expect (Part 1)

What to Expect From the Renowned Scenario Planner

BMGI Clem Sunter

Clem Sunter, renowned scenario planner and international business consultant.

Clem Sunter, renowned scenario planner and international business consultant, will be addressing a business breakfast, hosted by BMGI, at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in Sandton on May 20, 2015.

BMGI Clem Sunter PuzzleHighlights from Clem’s presentation will be posted by BMGI in the lead-up to what will undoubtedly be a memorable and valuable experience for everyone involved.

Today, we look at Clem’s view on the relevance of scenario planning as a technique and the increasing importance of innovation in the modern business world.

‘Scenario Planning as a business tool has been around since the 1940’s and has yet to be superseded by any other formal planning technique.  It is now used world-wide by businesses and governments to plan for an uncertain future.   It has been fine-tuned by our group at Mind of a Fox to the point where we have written several books and have developed a website,  There is no doubt that scenario planning will be around for a long time,’ he says.BMGI Clem Sunter Bulbs

Clem believes emphatically that innovation is becoming more and more relevant in business.  ‘Innovation is crucial to success in business.  The world is changing rapidly, particularly regarding technology, but also in terms of consumer demands and economics.  The business world isn’t like the game of golf, which has changed little over the years.  Companies like Apple have embraced the need for constant change and have turned this into their most powerful competitive tool.’

Change Pro Simulation Makes the Difference in Managing Change

gintyBy Ginty Chalk, Organisational Design, Development and Change Specialist with BMGI South Africa

In a world where change is more and more prevalent, managing the change process is a key capability requirement for every business.  Very often, though, this process does not proceed optimally because it is too slow, or a large change process requires different layers of management to be aligned, or ad hoc teams require that staff members from different departments have to work together.

If the process of change is a stumbling block to progress and growth in your company, then the Change Pro Simulation workshop from BMGI is an effective and efficient way to make the difference.

Change Pro Simulation helps manages to:quote

  • Open up to learning a new way to affect change
  • Reflect on their experiences with change
  • Discuss the experiences of change with their peers effectively
  • Build better teams

The simulation works by sending workshop participants from the company’s ‘head office’ into a successful ‘division’, where they have 120 days to convince the 24 top managers of that division to adopt a specific change initiative and agree to support its implementation within that division. 

The change mission is challenging and participants have no hierarchical power over the managers, but, to succeed, they have to rely on their soft skills plus the 25 tactics provided in the workshop.


Key Learning Points are:

  • The four stages of adoption: awareness, interest, evaluation and adoption.
  • Stakeholder analysis and constitution of a guiding coalition.
  • The importance of understanding and using formal and informal networks to influence.
  • How to “make the case for change” early on.
  • The necessity of using a mix of tactics.
  • Timing—the importance of doing the right things at the right time.
  • How to develop and maintain the momentum of a project.
  • The importance of communication.

Change Pro is effective because it leads to learning that sticks and gets implemented; it is efficient because it is easily run, takes between 5 and 8 hours and can be deployed on a large scale at comparatively low cost.

Change Pro is flexible and can be used as a core activity in a big, one-time corporate event, incorporated into existing corporate training and leadership programmes, or adapted to be a specific programme within a company.

David Silverstein’s Seven Trends for 2015 – and Beyond

David SilversteinThe one thing that is certain about the future is that it will be uncertain.  Given that business strategy is all about the future, one key component of a successful strategy is to become more successful than your competitors about predicting what is going to happen in your particular environment.

A key component of business strategy is the study of societal trends across the world. Combining insight with trends, companies can do a better job of exploiting future potential.

David Silverstein, BMGI’s founder and CEO, draws upon his extensive research and more than two decades of experience when he advises on innovation and strategy.   To assist his clients, Silverstein has identified seven trends that the world will encounter in 2015 (and beyond), trends that will have a far-reaching impact on businesses and lives.


As the economies of the world become more and more interlinked, distant geopolitical events become increasingly relevant at a local level. Because global politics are so uncertain at present, businesses need to increase the weight they give to political risk when thinking about their future.  What ultimately happens internationally is often determined by a small number of individuals who are driven primarily by economic advantage.

Example: the sudden and precipitous fall in the oil price has altered the economic profiles of countries, companies and individuals.  Continue reading

BMGI Offers a Structured Innovation Course For Businesses

You cannot successfully innovate in business by focusing only on idea generation.  And without a proven framework and tools, even good ideas seldom reach their full potential.

BMGI’s Structured Innovation course teaches the importance of a growth strategy and a balanced innovation portfolio to select the right innovation projects for your business. This is followed by teaching a diverse set of tools within a complete roadmap that takes the project from problem identification to ideation to implementation to commercialisation in a structured, four-step process.

Our Structured Innovation course follows a systematic innovation roadmap, D4 (Define, Discover, Develop and Demonstrate). D4 helps companies identify unmet customer needs, generate ideas to fulfill those needs, analyse the most promising solutions and test the end product/process.

strucutred innovationThe course teaches Innovation and Design techniques in a focused workshop environment with interactive lectures, practice exercises for each of the four steps, simulations and individualised mentoring that focuses on real-life problems and challenges.

The course has a hands-on, applied focus, with participants solving mini-problems and case studies.  At the end of the course, participants apply the full spectrum of thinking and tools across the D4 innovation-design continuum when they solve a major case-study problem.

Although this course has a standard curriculum, instructors will deviate when necessary to discuss the individual needs of participants.  Time is also set aside for peer-to-peer learning, where participants share their unique perspectives, problems, projects and best practices.

At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Solve business problems using a variety of innovation and design tools;
  • Understand how the outputs of some tools become inputs into subsequent tools along the chain of innovation;
  • Identify customer needs and get to the heart of innovation and design dilemmas;
  • Discover alternative solutions using innovative problem-solving tools;
  • Convert ideas into solutions and demonstrate success with prototyping and piloting;
  • Apply a roadmap for innovation and design to solve business problems with measurable success.

The course consists of thirty-six hours of classroom instruction given over five consecutive days.

For more information, please click here.

Meetings – Friend Rather Than Foe


Ginty Chalk

By Ginty Chalk

Business meetings have, generally, received a bad press.  Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist Dave Barry went as far as to say, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’” 

Harsh?  Perhaps, but nevertheless a sentiment that reflects the thinking of many business people today.

No matter how you view them, meetings are essential to the successful running of organizations, for purposes of communication, problem-solving, decision-making and assigning responsibilities and target dates.  The trick is to know how to manage successful meetings.

In this context, Eli Broad, well-loved American philanthropist and entrepreneur, said that meetings are needed, but “I don’t like to spend time in endless meetings talking about stuff that isn’t going to get anything done. I have meetings, but they’re short, prompt and to the point.”

So how should successful 21st-century companies view meetings?

Consulting group BMGI has developed a process by which client companies can radically streamline the management, structure and duration of meetings held.  Using this method, companies can make meetings shorter, focussed, results oriented and cost-effective.

Gone are the days when meetings drag on endlessly, often without a meaningful outcome and with no one responsible for auctioning decisions.

The BMGI approach teaches companies to run a daily departmental meeting according to five fundamental principles.


Preferably under fifteen minutes

This is absolutely vital, which is why it’s listed first. Nobody wants to be involved in a daily meeting that is scheduled for an hour and consistently runs over time. Fifteen minutes may become challenging with a larger team, but with as many as twenty people involved, it is possible.

Another thing about time is this: start exactly on time – to the second.  This means that the co-ordinator must be there at least ten minutes early to set up and latecomers will feel guilty and embarrassed.


There are only three things you need to know from each person in a routine operational meeting:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you planning to do today?
  • Is there anything stopping you from getting your job done?

Systematically circle the room with each person answering these questions.  At the slightest hint of a tangent or problem solving discussion, use the parking lot (see Principal 5 below).


It’s important that everybody physically meets  in the same place every day and stands during the meeting. Standing up stresses the importance of having a short meeting. Physical presence is important, but if a team member is physically out of the area, they should call in on a reliable phone line, be focused with no distractions and stand, like everyone else.


Strong facilitation and control is key to meeting the meeting’s objectives and central to this is understanding everybody’s role in the meeting. Depending on the type of meeting, some people may talk for a disproportionately long time, while others will simply listen and say nothing, apart from ‘thank you’ at the end. 

There also needs to be a recorder, to take care of the parking lot (see Principal 5 below) and other things people want to be reminded of.  Normally, there should be no other note-taking in the meeting.  A timekeeper is useful to remind everybody of the time as the meeting progresses.


To help out with important discussions that will take too long in a short meeting, a ‘parking lot’ should be established. When the discussion starts to take a tangent, the project manager should step in and say, ‘okay, we need to put this issue in the parking lot’ and move on. This is best accomplished with an assigned recorder.

It is best never to ignore a parking lot item until the next day. If people start getting the impression that the parking lot is just a way to cut them off, they will not respect it, and subvert your meeting objectives. If you have time at the end of the meeting to handle parking lot items, use it. If not, schedule some follow-ups with only the people involved.


Running an effective daily meeting can boost a company’s communication efforts, while avoiding or eliminating the need for long, boring meetings that suck your time and energy.  Following a few simple principles can really make the difference. Short meeting times, proper facilitation and knowing everybody’s role are keys to success.

This article was first published on

Effective Supervision 101

The following article, by BMGI Consultant Stan Shaw, was recently published on Lean Enterprise Institute.

People-256 (1)I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have traveled and worked globally, deploying Lean in Scandinavia, Brazil, the US, Europe, Southern Africa, as well as the Middle East. I’ve been equally fortunate to have seen most industries within the automotive supply chain from mining minerals to primary raw metal processing to secondary component processing and final assembly at OEM’s of cars and “yellow metal” vehicles. (I’ve yet to see the flipside or re-cycling. I’m sure one day I’ll be afforded that privilege).

All of the above industries have, in principle, various levels of maturity at applying Lean. All have similar management structures, and yet the single biggest hurdle all “new practitioners” have seems to be how to overcome the transition of what they see into an understanding of what needs to be done in order to create value (or extract value from the identified opportunity for value). It’s all well and good knowing the five principles of Lean and the wastes etc., but processing the theoretical understanding into something they can actually do in terms of action is hard at first for anyone. Continue reading

Change Champions Needed to Drive Innovation

BMGI has developed the Certified Innovation Champion Programme to allow companies to innovate successfully.  One of the key components of the programme is identifying ‘change champions’ within an organization, individuals who are specially selected to drive through a well-defined process.

‘Usually, executives and others in a company come up with really good innovation ideas, but no one is specifically tasked with making them happen.  Change Champions are responsible for turning ideas into reality, supported by the executive team.

Continue reading

Innovate by all means, but first select your innovation growth strategy

Successful innovation by businesses in South Africa is key if the triple challenges of low growth, high unemployment and poor international competitiveness are going to be beaten.  This is the view of Dimitri Markoulides, a senior consultant and Innovation Practice Lead with international management consulting firm BMGI.

‘Businesses need to be successful innovators if they hope to grow and compete nationally and internationally,’ he says.  ‘But most businesses know that.  It’s not a new concept.  There are two problems, however: the first is formalizing an innovation growth strategy and secondly there is the need to settle on the approach on “how to innovate”.  While it is easy to talk about the rewards of innovation, implementing a successful innovation strategy is not simple.  You need a properly structured programme, which is what we offer.’

Why does innovation often not work in the South African business environment, even though most businesses realise how important it is?  According to Markoulides, it is usually because they select an inappropriate innovation strategy.  ‘Companies often focus on becoming more efficient in their processes (EFFICIENCY INNOVATION), or simply replace one product with another in the market (SUSTAINING INNOVATION).  These strategies may improve cash flow and profitability, but are normally not truly innovative.’


BMGI teaches companies EMPOWERING INNOVATION, which in essence provides a solution for a target market that was not able to afford the original solution; and TRANSFORMATIONAL INNOVATION, where the entire business model is adjusted to meet new market needs.

Really innovative companies are not scared to change their entire business model when needed.  This may be the creation of a totally new product as the result of new technologies, or backward integration into their supply chain, or forward integration, where they become their own customers.  This type of innovation has seen the most dramatic growth of businesses across the world, creating companies that have become household names.

‘We believe that innovation in South Africa has, generally, become stuck at the efficiency and sustaining levels.  It is our aim to take our clients into new levels of innovation, encompassing both empowering and transformational innovation,’ says Markoulides.

This is where BMGI’s Certified Innovation Champion Programme comes into focus.  The company offers local businesses a successful, road-tested programme that takes the idea of innovation and makes it a usable and reliable business tool that can transform a company.

BMGI has developed the Certified Innovation Champion Programme to allow companies to innovate successfully.  One of the key components of the programme is identifying ‘change champions’ within an organization, individuals who are specially selected and specifically tasked with driving and implementing innovation through a well-defined process.

Central to BMGI’s programme is the use of Rapid Innovation ‘events’ to teach members of innovation teams, under the leadership of innovation champions, how to move an innovation idea forward.  These events are termed ‘Structured Ideation/Concept Team Events’ by BMGI.  ‘We work with the champions and their selected teams in a way that allows them to learn how to implement innovation,’ explains Markoulides.  ‘It is practical and goal-directed.  Innovation is a skill like any other and needs to be taught by experts and learned by willing and motivated participants.  We teach what we call the four D’s.’

Firstly, the company needs to DEFINE the need for change.  ‘It could be a new market opportunity, a new territory or a competitive threat,’ says Markoulides. 

The second ‘D’ is DISCOVER.  The team lays out a variety of possible solutions through various ideation and provocation techniques to meet the innovation opportunity.  The solutions are evaluated and the best ones defined as the ideal.

Next comes DEVELOP Phase.  Team members create concepts and develop ideas specifically designed to achieve the solution required.  Ideas are integrated so as to secure a realistic model/product that will solve the problem.

Finally, the DEMONSTRATE phase arrives.  This is where the team puts the ideas into practice by building a working model of the product or service required.

Innovation is like any sport, the harder you work at it the “luckier” you become. No organisation will come up with radical breakthrough ideas if it does not practice innovation- it’s a lesson learnt back in the days of Edison’s Idea factories.

If this trend takes hold, then many of the problems inherent in the South African business environment could become things of the past.